Piano Plus! Concert Series

Seventh Season

Series curated by George Tsontakis

Saturday, March 21 at 4 p.m.

John Halle & The MANA Quartet

$12 suggested donation

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The MANA Quartet

Michael Hernandez, soprano saxophone
Michael Mortarotti, alto saxophone
Diane Hunger, tenor saxophone
Thomas Giles, baritone saxophone

Called a “groundbreaking ensemble” by the Los Angeles Chronicle, the MANA Quartet has repeatedly won high praise from today’s leading composers, noted as “vigorous and accomplished…deserving every success” and “beautifully balanced…a new bright light in the world of chamber music” by Pulitzer Prize winners Charles Wuorinen and Ellen Taafe Zwilich. Championed as “Saxophone Ambassadors” by Chamber Music Magazine, MANA embodies its namesake as a force advocating for the saxophone in classical music.

john halle

John Halle

Pianist and composer John Halle’s musical career began in the late 1970s as a jazz musician in San Francisco where he performed with Eddie Henderson, Sonny Stitt, Mark Levine, Freddie Hubbard, and many others. He has also performed works by Bach, Beethoven, Ravel and Debussy in Berkeley, New York, Cambridge in solo recitals as well as accompanying for his wife, the violinist and violist Marka Gustavsson and his son Benjamin, a double bass player.

A widely performed composer, he is a founding member of the composers collective Common Sense. Halle’s recent works include Amen Choruses, released on violinist Julie Rosenfeld’s Grammy nominated New Music for Violin and Piano, the critically acclaimed Sphere(’s) for the Friction Quartet and, most recently, Street Music for the Mana Sax Quartet. 

A prolific writer on music, politics, and culture, his work has appeared in Current Affairs, Jacobin, New Politics and the New Haven Register.

Halle recently retired from an academic career which included faculty positions at Yale and the Bard College-Conservatory of Music. In this capacity, he taught some of the younger generation’s most celebrated composers including winners of the Pulitzer Prize and Academy Awards.

He is currently embarked on a fifteen city tour where he will present and discuss his own works for solo piano as well as works by Bach Debussy and Errol Garner.

Saturday, May 2 at 4 p.m.

Yoonie Han

$12 suggested donation

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Yoonie Han

Praised for her "flowing tones, poetic phrasing and heavenly singing melodies" (Cincinnati Inquirer), Korean pianist Yoonie Han has won the highest accolades for her poetic performances in major concert halls around the world.
She is the first-prize winner of the Washington International Piano Competition, Fulbright Concerto Competition, World Piano Competition, Kosciuszko Chopin Competition, Juilliard’s Gina Bachauer Piano Competition, Juilliard’s Chopin Piano Competition, Music Teachers’
National Association Piano Competition, and has garnered major prizes at the Helsinki Maj Lind International Piano Competition, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli Prize, and Concorso Pianistico Ettore Pozzoli Internaziole.
Ms. Han has performed with the Berliner Symphoniker, Buffalo Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Banff Festival Orchestra, I Pomeriggi Musicali di Milan, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, and Presidential Symphony Orchestra of Turkey.
Ms. Han received her Bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, her Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and her Doctorate at SUNY Stony Brook. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Piano at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Yoonie Han is a Steinway Concert & Recording Artist.

Saturday, June 6 at 4 p.m.

Guevara & Zhelezova Piano Duo

$12 suggested donation

piano duo

Citlalli Guevara & Slavina Zhelezova

Hailed for their dynamic interpretations, powerful stage presence, and elegance, the Guevara & Zhelezova Piano Duo has been praised as “impeccable, simply wonderful!” (El Sol de Orizaba, Mexico),  “…great display of talent” (Diario De Morelos, Mexico),  “…exotic, stunning and sensual” (Atencion San Miguel, Mexico).  Acclaimed for their “wonderful sense of dialog and balance” (American Record Guide),  the unique duo combines the cultural heritages and temperaments of Latin America and Eastern Europe and is committed to delivering an exhilarating experience to audiences worldwide by bringing a vast repertoire and original programming, ranging from Baroque to newly-commissioned works.
Mexican pianist Citlalli Guevara and Bulgarian pianist Slavina Zhelezova, both winners of prestigious international competitions and awards, began their musical collaboration in 2009 as two young pianists in the Bell’arte Foundation Program based in Brussels. Working closely under the tutelage of Philippe Entremont and Nelson delle Vigne Fabbri, the two immediately bonded based on their shared vision for the unique artistic potential of the music for duo piano. The duo debuted to a standing ovation at the Palm Beach International Piano Festival (Palm Beach Atlantic University, USA) in 2009.
The duo’s debut CD, Midnight Conversations, released in 2017 by Centaur Records, has received high praise for the wide range of  four-hand selections, including the duo’s own arrangements of Piazzolla’s tangos. The album has been acclaimed for the duo’s “daring,”  “virtuosic,” and “blistering” interpretations  (Piano News, 2/2018), “velvety,” “gorgeous,” and “opulent” sound, and “brilliant performance that's a lot of rollicking fun” (American Record Guide, March/April 2018)).